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Freedom is one of the most misused ideas, especially in terms of politics and human agency. Liberty is the misunderstood answer to the issue.

Freedom regards being able to do anything. A total lack of rules of authority. Essentially anarchy.

Liberty regards being able to do the right thing, even though there are some rules and authority structures.

The differences are drastic and they start with the idea of conservatism and liberalism which was explained well by Thomas Sowell:

Conservative – constrained – based on the idea that humans are naturally flawed

Liberal – unconstrained – based on the idea that humans are naturally good

In this manner, someone who supports gun ownership rights, is actually liberal. And someone who supports an anti hate-speech law is actually conservative. The definitions of the words “conservative” and “liberal” have evolved so far away from their meanings it’s shocking. This clarifies that essentially all political debate is over whether man should be more constrained, or unconstrained. And that debated is based on the fundamental view of man’s basic character.

Hence the liberal ideal of “freedom” tends strongly towards unconstraint and that man is naturally good. The conservative idea of fascism tends strongly towards constraint and that man is naturally evil. The moderate idea of “liberty” tends strongly towards a balance of constraint and unconstraint and that man has flaws, but isn’t wholly evil.

Freedom – being able to do anything

Liberty – being able to do the right thing

America was never founded upon the idea of freedom, it was entirely based on the idea of liberty. It was designed to offer us the access to the right activities, but to also punish evil. That target was so well struck that the result was one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen and the relative level of prosperity and safety nearly unparalleled.

But as beliefs and opinions shift (sadly based on limited personal anecdotes, and not more statistically balanced perspectives) the outcome will be that people will be able to do either more evil, or less good depending on the direction (constraint or unconstraint) that the society travels.

Interestingly enough, this is also true for organizations and businesses. “Freedom” (anarchy) in a business would lead to failure extremely quickly, but “liberty” would allow for rapid expansion and growth. A great example of this is Spotify. They seem to have found a relatively balanced target where they allow employees to innovate and create, but not so much that the organization falls apart.